PNE supporters vote Fuller

Ricardo Fuller playing  for Preston North End
Ricardo Fuller playing for Preston North End
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Ricardo Fuller was the bees knees for Preston North End, while Velice Shumulikoski was the bottom of the pile.

That was the finding of a survey conducted by leading football magazine ‘Four-Four-Two’ into the best and worst foreign player to pull on a Preston shirt.

In April’s edition of the magazine, they contacted fans of all 92 league clubs to see which imports had shone and which had bombed.

Fuller took star billing at North End, and it would be hard to disagree with those supporters who took part in the poll.

The Jamaica international was Craig Brown’s first signing as PNE manager in June 2002, with the striker going on to score 31 goals in 63 appearances in a two-year stay.

That was some record bearing in mind he tore his cruciate knee ligament five months into his time at Deepdale, and injury which kept him sidelined for half a season.

Fuller’s stand-out moment for North End was his performance in a 2-0 win over Leicester City in November 2002, a game in which the front man scored both goals.

The second of those was a stunning solo effort when he picked up possession on the half-way line and weaved his way into the box before slotting a shot past the Foxes keeper.

But just five days later, his season was ended by the knee injury, and he wasn’t back in action until the start of the following campaign following surgery in the United States.

Fuller moved on to join Portsmouth for a knock-down fee in August 2004, and later signed for Southampton before joining current club Stoke City five-and-a-half years ago. First-team action has been limited for him at the Britannia Stadium this season, his first Premier League start of the campaign last week against Chelsea ending within 25 minutes when he was sent-off.

While North End fans remember Fuller with such warmth, it’s with something of a shudder that they recall the stay of midfielder Shumulikoski during the 2009/10 season.

The Macedonia skipper – dubbed earlier in his career as the ‘Macedonian Steven Gerrard’ – was signed from Ipswich Town but ended up starting only nine Championship games with a further six appearances coming from the bench.

He was last seen in a PNE shirt as a second-half substitute in the 7-0 FA Cup win over Colchester on January 2, 2010, between the dismissal of Alan Irvine and appointment of Darren Ferguson. Shumulikoski was released later that season and went on to play for Russian First Division side Sibir Novosibirsk.

He’s currently turning out for Tianjin Teda in China, and is still in the Macedonia international squad.